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HELyes
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Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 3:41 am

My non Finnish colleague in Helsinki saw a story about the open prisons in Finland on France24 and that left him rather puzzled. We had an interesting discussion, actually many native Finns at work didn't quite know how the prison system works in the country.

In Finland a large part of the low-risk inmates serve time in so called open prisons where they have a lot more freedom, they can work and study outside. They actually have their own keys. They are tested for drugs and alcohol regularly, braking the rules means a regular prison is calling. If your sentence is less than a year it's possible to be sent straight to a open prison, the other low-risk inmates typically spent the last part of their sentence in a open jail. There's one open prison near central Helsinki, on the touristic island of Suomenlinna.

My newly immigrated colleague thinks the criminals are "rewarded" in this system, the model is widely accepted in Finland though. Since the first open prison was introduced in 1960's the idea has been to offer a gradual reintroduction into normal life, this probably has help for it's part to lower the crime rates Finland. Especially the serious crimes have been decreased, there have been a declining homicide trend starting from the 1990s, in 2016 the rate was the lowest ever. And the open prisons cost less. I suppose there are something similar in the other Nordic countries too, somewhere else?

France24 in English: https://youtu.be/0P28uBM0ryU

More on NBC: https://youtu.be/35QL080lkAw

Some interesting data there... People incarcerated per 100K, the year not mentioned: Finland 57 and USA 666. In 2016 the entire Finnish police force fired six (6) bullets.
 
CCGPV
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 3:57 am

There are some Federal Prisons in the USA with somewhat similar styles of confinement. The inmates have to meet standards of maximum sentences, type of crime, etc to go there. We call them "country club prisons" because they often have outdoor recreation facilities not found in other more secure prisons. They often have just a single layer of simple fencing and the inmates are free to roam during the day.

FCI Aliceville and FPC Montgomery are two in Alabama that I know are the "country club" style. A friend's father served time there for committing fraud within the medical field. They were allowed lots of freedoms that most people never imagined prisoners in the USA usually get. They had to be counted a few times a day and other than that were allowed to roam as they pleased until lights out. They had access to tennis courts, art and music rooms, TV, education, etc.

I'm pretty sure there's a similar prison in the research triangle area of North Carolina.

As far as comparing rates of imprisonment between the two countries you really can't do that as the makeup and realities of the societies are so different.
 
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Aesma
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 4:25 am

And prisons in Finland are probably not a for profit lobby that can pay judges and politicians to fill their jails.
 
salttee
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 4:25 am

HELyes wrote:
People incarcerated per 100K, the year not mentioned: Finland 57 and USA 666. In 2016 the entire Finnish police force fired six (6) bullets.

That tells it all. And it is a valid comparison.
 
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c933103
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 6:01 am

Undeniably, most criminals who.committed wrongdoing are just because of their momentary impulsion or mishap in their life and can be corrected with sufficient help. But I still think that it probably shouldn't be the purpose of prison which as I understand is something that would cease the freedom of prisoner for the crimes committed by them. I think maybe a more clear separation between punishment facility and correction facility would be a better approach to the problem, where instead of sending criminals into facility that are mainly for correction purpose and brand it as a prison, it would be better to turn such facility into something that prisoner would participate in after finished their prison term, and change the law to reflect the status of the correction facility as well as consider the nature of all crimes in the law to determine how much of the punishment should actually be punishment and how much of that should be correction.
 
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Kiwirob
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 7:32 am

It’s the same in Norway, prisons are like holiday camps unless you’re one of the really naughty ones then you go to a proper prison with fences and guards.
 
stratosphere
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 1:01 pm

HELyes wrote:
My non Finnish colleague in Helsinki saw a story about the open prisons in Finland on France24 and that left him rather puzzled. We had an interesting discussion, actually many native Finns at work didn't quite know how the prison system works in the country.

In Finland a large part of the low-risk inmates serve time in so called open prisons where they have a lot more freedom, they can work and study outside. They actually have their own keys. They are tested for drugs and alcohol regularly, braking the rules means a regular prison is calling. If your sentence is less than a year it's possible to be sent straight to a open prison, the other low-risk inmates typically spent the last part of their sentence in a open jail. There's one open prison near central Helsinki, on the touristic island of Suomenlinna.

My newly immigrated colleague thinks the criminals are "rewarded" in this system, the model is widely accepted in Finland though. Since the first open prison was introduced in 1960's the idea has been to offer a gradual reintroduction into normal life, this probably has help for it's part to lower the crime rates Finland. Especially the serious crimes have been decreased, there have been a declining homicide trend starting from the 1990s, in 2016 the rate was the lowest ever. And the open prisons cost less. I suppose there are something similar in the other Nordic countries too, somewhere else?

France24 in English: https://youtu.be/0P28uBM0ryU

More on NBC: https://youtu.be/35QL080lkAw

Some interesting data there... People incarcerated per 100K, the year not mentioned: Finland 57 and USA 666. In 2016 the entire Finnish police force fired six (6) bullets.


That would NEVER work here in the US can you imagine giving an MS-13 member the keys to the castle. I saw that same program and one of the inmates was a convicted murderer and had a key and could come and go as he pleases but the real eye opener and his sentence was pretty light compared to what he would have had in the US. I do agree that with a lot of non violent inmates some act of humanity with regard to confinement would help them. But I think the kinder more gentler style of prisons that Finland has only works in countries like Finland and Norway and countries where there is not a lot of inherent violent crime to speak of. Here in the US I don't see it. In fact the inmates in the US that like to stuff up their toilets and create havoc if it was my prison and could do what I want that inmate would go from a US style to a Russian style in 2 seconds or worse. Flood the cell fine you will be put in a block with no bed no lights and a bucket for a toilet for month. Now you let him out lets see if that same inmate wants to try that again. Oh you want to try that again and assault a guard too and throw your bodily fluids? Then you will be taken out in the courtyard with all the other inmates watching while you get whipped to within an inch of your life then thrown back into that dark cell with no bed or lights or toilets this time for 6 months and IF you survive I really doubt you will have anymore issues with that inmate. Again this is an example of how I would run my prison if I could run it like I wanted to. I can promise you I would have no problems like I see in the prisons here. I would reward good behavior and severely punish those who don't.
 
JJJ
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 2:22 pm

stratosphere wrote:

That would NEVER work here in the US can you imagine giving an MS-13 member the keys to the castle.


A violent gang member doesn't really fit the bill for "low-risk".

In several European countries there are similar programs. Not necessarily open prisons per se, but arrangements so that an inmate on the last months of his time will be allowed to just sleep in prison so that he can start looking for work, etc once he's free.

Violent or repeat offenders do not generally get that kind of treatment.
 
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Dutchy
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 2:24 pm

salttee wrote:
HELyes wrote:
People incarcerated per 100K, the year not mentioned: Finland 57 and USA 666. In 2016 the entire Finnish police force fired six (6) bullets.

That tells it all. And it is a valid comparison.


Yes, whatever works indeed. It is a totally different philosophy. A prison just to punish people or a prison sentence to really work on the problem and give people a second change.
 
bgm
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 3:45 pm

For a country that still has the death penalty, and values the almighty dollar before anything else, are you surprised that they have profit-driven prisons made purely for punishment?

Prison should be a chance to rehabilitate the offender, offer education, vocational training etc, so that when they get out of prison, they don't end up back in there again shortly after. Of course this doesn't work for everyone, but it should be a goal.
 
Zaf
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Mon May 21, 2018 4:37 pm

If Canada had this system Adam Kargus would be still alive. Rehabilitation is not the goal in North america. they put thieves in one cell with violent psychopaths in order to generate future business / revenue. Prison violence is part of the punishment. Guards watching and ignoring. Once the thief is released he is himself a psychopath committing more crimes.
 
Bostrom
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 12:13 pm

We have plenty of them in Sweden as well. Works great for low risk offenders. (And yes, we have high security prisons as well.)
 
WIederling
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 1:24 pm

Kiwirob wrote:
It’s the same in Norway, prisons are like holiday camps unless you’re one of the really naughty ones then you go to a proper prison with fences and guards.

Danmark too.
Years ago ( ~~1980 ) we holidayed over New Year in Denmark.
doing some walking we came through a little forest into something that looked like some camped health/sport/education site.
no fence.
Leaving the compound via the main road entry, looking back the sign said "Fængsel" :-)
 
CCGPV
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 2:40 pm

bgm wrote:
For a country that still has the death penalty, and values the almighty dollar before anything else, are you surprised that they have profit-driven prisons made purely for punishment?

Prison should be a chance to rehabilitate the offender, offer education, vocational training etc, so that when they get out of prison, they don't end up back in there again shortly after. Of course this doesn't work for everyone, but it should be a goal.


Literally every prison in the USA has rehabilitation programs, access to education and other programs to help prisoners. The only prisoners who aren't eligible for those programs are those on death row.

The thing is about why most don't use them is because they don't WANT to.
 
WIederling
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 4:37 pm

CCGPV wrote:
The thing is about why most don't use them is because they don't WANT to.


dysfunctional thinking.

you have to create WANT first. ( i.e. usually some guidance is required. )
 
CCGPV
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 4:38 pm

WIederling wrote:
CCGPV wrote:
The thing is about why most don't use them is because they don't WANT to.


dysfunctional thinking.

you have to create WANT first. ( i.e. usually some guidance is required. )


How do we do this?
 
WIederling
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 4:45 pm

CCGPV wrote:
WIederling wrote:
CCGPV wrote:
The thing is about why most don't use them is because they don't WANT to.


dysfunctional thinking.

you have to create WANT first. ( i.e. usually some guidance is required. )


How do we do this?


Look around you: active reintegration of offenders works in most reasonably civilized parts of the world.
And different ways do work.
IMU the core activity for success is to actually care. ( Like with your children.
If you don't care for them the outcome is terrible.)
 
CCGPV
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 4:54 pm

WIederling wrote:
CCGPV wrote:
WIederling wrote:

dysfunctional thinking.

you have to create WANT first. ( i.e. usually some guidance is required. )


How do we do this?


Look around you: active reintegration of offenders works in most reasonably civilized parts of the world.
And different ways do work.
IMU the core activity for success is to actually care. ( Like with your children.
If you don't care for them the outcome is terrible.)


All good points. I couldn't even begin to imagine how to implement something like that on a large scale.

I think the probation requirements and burden of having a felony prevents many from getting started. The widespread amounts of single parent homes is a major cultural problem in many aspects of society. I have no idea how to fix that. Its probably all related somehow.
 
WIederling
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 5:22 pm

CCGPV wrote:
I have no idea how to fix that. Its probably all related somehow.


first hurdle: you don't care.
 
CCGPV
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 5:35 pm

WIederling wrote:
CCGPV wrote:
I have no idea how to fix that. Its probably all related somehow.


first hurdle: you don't care.


When you boil it down you're probably right. Its not that I (and most people) don't care at all its that its not high on the list of priorities for most people. We do know there are issues with prisons in the USA but there are just more pressing things I (and most) people have to worry about. When there are struggles to fund and pay for schools or roads spending money on prisons or programs for criminals isn't really that attractive.

That's probably an unfortunate but true. We have a pretty draconian stance towards punishment.
 
WIederling
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 7:24 pm

CCGPV wrote:
WIederling wrote:
CCGPV wrote:
I have no idea how to fix that. Its probably all related somehow.


first hurdle: you don't care.


When you boil it down you're probably right. Its not that I (and most people) don't care at all its that its not high on the list of priorities for most people. We do know there are issues with prisons in the USA but there are just more pressing things I (and most) people have to worry about. When there are struggles to fund and pay for schools or roads spending money on prisons or programs for criminals isn't really that attractive.

That's probably an unfortunate but true. We have a pretty draconian stance towards punishment.


All the money you spend on prisons ( you apparently spend more per person and on more persons than most anywhere else )
is not available for schools, roads, all that stuff.

IMU wrong priorities.
 
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Tugger
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 7:39 pm

I think the bigger issue for the USA currently is not that we "don't care" its that we don't forgive (as a society) anymore. Anything you do you are to be permanently punished for, it is to follow you throughout your life, and i as someone wholly unconnected to whatever you have done have not just the right but a requirement to also attack you for any wrong I feel you have done that I find unforgivable.

We are doing this more and more nowadays and all it does is harm the nation. Individually we all get to choose if we forgive and how we do so with, but society as a structured community with laws etc. we really need to be able to allow crimes and criminals to do their time and serve their sentence and then move forward with contributing again to the greater community. It's not easy but few things that are worth it are easy.

Tugg
 
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HELyes
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Wed May 23, 2018 9:55 pm

WIederling wrote:
CCGPV wrote:
WIederling wrote:

first hurdle: you don't care.


When you boil it down you're probably right. Its not that I (and most people) don't care at all its that its not high on the list of priorities for most people. We do know there are issues with prisons in the USA but there are just more pressing things I (and most) people have to worry about. When there are struggles to fund and pay for schools or roads spending money on prisons or programs for criminals isn't really that attractive.

That's probably an unfortunate but true. We have a pretty draconian stance towards punishment.


All the money you spend on prisons ( you apparently spend more per person and on more persons than most anywhere else )
is not available for schools, roads, all that stuff.

IMU wrong priorities.


It looks the typically pragmatic way of thinking in the Nordic countries helped to make the change. The conclusion in Finland was that the old prison system didn't show good results and was expensive. It didn't benefit the society so it had to be changed. There's similar thinking with fines, in Finland most fines are based on your taxable income, you can be fined tens of thousands for speeding. The fine doesn't work if you don't feel the sting.
 
WIederling
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Thu May 24, 2018 7:08 am

HELyes wrote:
There's similar thinking with fines, in Finland most fines are based on your taxable income, you can be fined tens of thousands for speeding. The fine doesn't work if you don't feel the sting.


I'd like to see that here. We only have "Tagessatz" fines dependent on income if you have a conviction in court.
( speeding usually is a "Ordnungswidrigkeit" at fixed rates )
Then, my guess the notorious rich kid speeders will have the janitor ( minimum wage job ) front as holder.

reintegration:
we don't have "open prisons" in Germany (yet?) but invariably a well planned path of guidance by earned easements
going over into dayjobs where you return to prison for the night ( followed our top inmate Uli Höneß ? :-).
( We also have those that will never be set free because their psychological setup predicts a dangerous outcome with some certainty.)
 
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HELyes
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Fri May 25, 2018 1:56 am

WIederling wrote:
HELyes wrote:
There's similar thinking with fines, in Finland most fines are based on your taxable income, you can be fined tens of thousands for speeding. The fine doesn't work if you don't feel the sting.


I'd like to see that here. We only have "Tagessatz" fines dependent on income if you have a conviction in court.
( speeding usually is a "Ordnungswidrigkeit" at fixed rates )
Then, my guess the notorious rich kid speeders will have the janitor ( minimum wage job ) front as holder.


Yeah similar terms are used in Finland too, perhaps come from Germany originally. A "day-fine" is based on the offender's daily net income, while minor infractions are punished with a "fixed petty fine". Speeding is punished with a day-fine if exceeding the limit by 21 km/h or more, if I just remember this correctly. It seems the highest fine for speeding so far in Finland is 120K Euros, usually these cases are taken to court by offender, in hopes to get the sum down. Of course you can try to hide your real earnings but the wealthy guys I know drive like old ladies ;)
 
WIederling
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Fri May 25, 2018 7:29 am

HELyes wrote:
... but the wealthy guys I know drive like old ladies ;)

hhehe.

The number of SUV geriatric transports is rising all the time.
And they come at you in the middle of the road. "Keep right" ? not for ME!!

The rising number of beyond 70 drivers is turning into a major ( and dangerous ) bother here.
 
tommy1808
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Sat May 26, 2018 5:44 pm

CCGPV wrote:
All good points. I couldn't even begin to imagine how to implement something like that on a large scale.


Make it illegal for employers to ask for criminal records for most jobs. Generally anything that makes it essier to find a job after prison, this may include having a proper welfare system, so people can show up to interviews properly, have an address, a bank account and such. Make successful participation in an educational programs make leaps towards early release. After all, people with jobs have less reasons to commit crimes than without.
Pay private prisons only x% while inmates and the rest after they stayed out if prisons for two years or so. If you do have private prisons, use market forces to make them work for society.

I think the probation requirements and burden of having a felony prevents many from getting started.


Probabtion requirements standing in the way of a getting and keeping a job have to be lifted on short notice.

The widespread amounts of single parent homes is a major cultural problem in many aspects of society. I have no idea how to fix that. Its probably all related somehow.


Lock fewer people up in the first place, you can probably do with 80% leparticipation ss prisoners without any negative effect on crime.

Best regards
Thomas
 
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HELyes
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Re: Finland's "Open Prisons"

Sat May 26, 2018 9:04 pm

CCGPV wrote:
The widespread amounts of single parent homes is a major cultural problem in many aspects of society. I have no idea how to fix that. Its probably all related somehow.


What I've seen an affordable daycare is the key for low income families and especially for single families, so the parent can work full time or study. I believe the public money is wisely used there, investing in children pays back.

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